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Old Feb 16, 2013, 07:58 AM   #1
MacBoobsPro
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Illustrator help... before I kill myself!

Why is Illustrator so damn infuriating and over complex? It takes about 40 steps to do something where as in Freehand (an ancient app) can do it in 3!

As Freehand is no longer supported I'm stuck with Illustrator and at times I think I've cracked it but then some days Illustrator just does whatever the hell it wants.

So my problem to day is simple. I want to make a clipping path/mask of a group of items... thats it! Why the **** does Illustrator refuse to do it and/or change the outcome of the process?

Below is a logo I'm working on. Its poo I know but its what the client wants anyhow... underneath it are the circles representing bubbles and the black mask I want to use. Once masked the bubbles will be moved on top of the logo above.

I know the mask has to be on top when executing the path I've shown it underneath here so you can see what Im clipping. When I try to create the mask I get two kinds of result. One is an invisible mask and no bubbles inside it OR I get bubbles in just the H at the beginning. I tried grouping and uniting the bubbles AND the mask but I get the same results. The stupid thing is, I did it about 30 minutes earlier with the same exact object in the same damn file.

Please can someone explain to me why Illustrator gives different results and is there a stupid sequence or dance I need to do before it will work.

In Freehand all I would need to do is cut one object, select the other and click past inside. Job done!

I've been at this for ages now and I"m charging by the hour and I can't start charging 100s for a ****ing clipping mask!

Why Adobe keep insisting on creating ever complex apps when it is clearly not needed I dont know. I've been in the graphics industry a long time and the only other app more complex and ridiculous than Illustrator is Microsoft Word.

Hope someone can help and apologies for the attitude I'm just pissed off!
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Old Feb 16, 2013, 09:31 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MacBoobsPro View Post
Why is Illustrator so damn infuriating and over complex? It takes about 40 steps to do something where as in Freehand (an ancient app) can do it in 3!

As Freehand is no longer supported I'm stuck with Illustrator and at times I think I've cracked it but then some days Illustrator just does whatever the hell it wants.

So my problem to day is simple. I want to make a clipping path/mask of a group of items... thats it! Why the **** does Illustrator refuse to do it and/or change the outcome of the process?

Below is a logo I'm working on. Its poo I know but its what the client wants anyhow... underneath it are the circles representing bubbles and the black mask I want to use. Once masked the bubbles will be moved on top of the logo above.

I know the mask has to be on top when executing the path I've shown it underneath here so you can see what Im clipping. When I try to create the mask I get two kinds of result. One is an invisible mask and no bubbles inside it OR I get bubbles in just the H at the beginning. I tried grouping and uniting the bubbles AND the mask but I get the same results. The stupid thing is, I did it about 30 minutes earlier with the same exact object in the same damn file.

Please can someone explain to me why Illustrator gives different results and is there a stupid sequence or dance I need to do before it will work.

In Freehand all I would need to do is cut one object, select the other and click past inside. Job done!

I've been at this for ages now and I"m charging by the hour and I can't start charging 100s for a ****ing clipping mask!

Why Adobe keep insisting on creating ever complex apps when it is clearly not needed I dont know. I've been in the graphics industry a long time and the only other app more complex and ridiculous than Illustrator is Microsoft Word.

Hope someone can help and apologies for the attitude I'm just pissed off!
1. Mark (both) the group of objects.
2. Object > compound path > make.
4. Make a clipping mask.

Edit: Alternative:
1. Make a compound path
2. Draw inside (bottom of the tools)
3. Copy the rings (or whatever) and paste inside the compound path.

Last edited by lucasberg; Feb 16, 2013 at 09:47 AM.
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Old Feb 16, 2013, 09:35 AM   #3
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Yeah, the clipping mask is key. I am also an old FH user, I never thought I would say it, but I miss its simplicity.

"No updates to FreeHand have been made for over four years, and Adobe has no plans to initiate development to add new features or to support Intel-based Macs and Windows Vista. "
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Old Feb 16, 2013, 09:50 AM   #4
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One of the things I've found helpful when dealing with Illustrator is to remove Groupings and Compound Paths when they get in the way of what I'm trying to do. One way to do this is to select a single element (White Arrow with Plus) and then Cut and Paste in Front (so it maintains its position).

I'm a little obsessive, so I'l usually do it twice ...

Select + Command X + Command F + Command X + Command F

What this does is is makes the individual letter (or shape) independent from any previous Groupings or Compounds.

Now, just click the individual letter and the circles you want masked by that letter and create a mask. Do that to the individual letters and group them (if you want) when you're all done.
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Old Feb 16, 2013, 10:07 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucasberg View Post
1. Mark (both) the group of objects.
2. Object > compound path > make.
4. Make a clipping mask.

Edit: Alternative:
1. Make a compound path
2. Draw inside (bottom of the tools)
3. Copy the rings (or whatever) and paste inside the compound path.
What do you mean by 'mark'?

Why do I have to make a 'compound path' (and what exactly is a compound path?) I thought making a clipping mask would create a 'compound' path of rings/bubbles inside the mask?


EDIT: Just tried selecting both groups. Chose make compound path and it changes the mask shape to an outline the same as the bubbles and then when I choose create mask i get a message saying i cant do that?!

EDIT2: I've figured it out. And this is what i mean about Illustrator being over complicated. As I'm using text converted to outlines as the mask I first need to make those items unified. Then, for some unknown reason, I need to make a compound path so the bowls and counters etc are punched out - even though there are none (Freehand did this automatically as obviously thats what 99% of people would want/expect anyway) then once I've done that I select both the newly formed mask and the rings making sure to layer them correctly first before clicking make clipping mask.

The term compound path is ambiguous as depending on the complexity of the selection a compound path could be made anywhere.

Thanks for the input guys. I can work 10 times faster in Freehand than Illustrator. Just selecting an anchor point is a pain in the ass.
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Old Feb 16, 2013, 05:45 PM   #6
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Sorry, but this is just an example of liking what you know and disliking what you don't. I was trained initially in Illustrator and over many years of moving between Illustrator and Freehand based shops, always found Freehand so clunky it made me bleed from the eyes.

I knew many designers who loved Freehand, so I absolutely accept that this was about my workflow, and it's the same in reverse for you. I'm sorry, but it's something you're going to have to get used to.

It's different. It's not necessarily worse, just different.

Last edited by Jim Campbell; Feb 17, 2013 at 02:45 AM. Reason: Added end of missing sentence!
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Old Feb 16, 2013, 07:51 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Jim Campbell View Post
Sorry, but this is just an example of liking what you know and disliking what you don't.
I essentially agree.

However, I have over twenty years of experience with Adobe's products. And for whatever reason, after twenty years those programs are just as hard to learn if not harder. I pity the poor fool who has to crack into them the first time.

I really wish they had spent more time trying to make these programs simpler and more intuitive. But perhaps I'm asking for too much.
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Old Feb 17, 2013, 02:51 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by citizenzen View Post
I essentially agree.
I really wish they had spent more time trying to make these programs simpler and more intuitive. But perhaps I'm asking for too much.
At the end of the day, Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign are pro-level design tools. I would rather have the feature set and have to work to understand how to use the software, than not have 'obscure' features and have the software be easier to use. There are cheaper and/or (ostensibly) easier applications available to those not requiring a pro-level workflow.

(By which I'm not being snotty or elitist -- there are lots of people who don't need a closely colour-managed workflow, or tight control of trapping, or even direct manipulation of tracking and kerning, for example. That's fine -- there's other software available!)

Cheers

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Old Feb 17, 2013, 03:49 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by citizenzen View Post
I essentially agree.

However, I have over twenty years of experience with Adobe's products. And for whatever reason, after twenty years those programs are just as hard to learn if not harder. I pity the poor fool who has to crack into them the first time.

I really wish they had spent more time trying to make these programs simpler and more intuitive. But perhaps I'm asking for too much.
Even Mr. T would "Pity the Fool".

I don't think they even give you a PDF of a manual anymore, it's all "Help", which is useless if you don't know the terms. I used to read the manual front to back with every new version.

Maybe everyone wants to watch videos of techniques these days, but showing someone how to do something isn't as useful as showing them the underlying concepts.

I started with Illustrator 88, and there's been on a steady descent into unuseability since version 8, I feel the OP's pain with the way clipping paths are handled, big step into the dumpster since CS3. Mix it with compound paths and you get a lot of blank stares from Noobs.

Once in a while I run 8 on my old G5 and it flies compared to the newer CS versions (5 still draws better). No transparency? So what, go run Photoshop, it does transparency better than a vector drawing program could ever hope to.

As for Freehand, sorry, I never liked it's pathetic screen display, reminded me of MacDraw, and it never had the elegant control of bezier's that earlier versions of illustrator had. There were a few features I liked, but Adobe wasn't ambitious enough to steal them while they had the product, I guess Altsys still owned the code.

I knew a designer who literally had every piece of artwork she had ever produced in one Freehand file. She started every new job by covering up the old artwork with a white rectangle. She had never looked at the art in wireframe view or she would have seen it was black with overlapping lines.

I do wish Freehand was still around, though. Without competition, Illustrator is circling the drain. I can hardly wait for the next bloated, sluggish, buggy version Adobe will be asking me for more money for, before they've fixed CS6.
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Old Feb 17, 2013, 04:17 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Campbell View Post
Sorry, but this is just an example of liking what you know and disliking what you don't.
Its got nothing to do with liking what I know my point is why is Illustrator far more complex than it needs to be?

At the time when Freehand and Illustrator were fighting it out Freehand was a much better app. Then Adobe bought Macromedia and simply stopped supporting Freehand. They didnt take any of the good things about it and add them to Illustrator they just made Illustrator more and more complex to achieve relatively simple things.

All im saying is its more complex than it needs to be.

In this instance I had to make a compound path i.e. a path inside another path before it would accept my command to make it a clipping path - even though making a compound path achieved nothing as there were not paths to be compounded. That why I didnt do it in the first place! Now tell me that is not complicated?

I agree with Larry-K that the underlying concepts are simply not explained. Its just do this do that and boom. Well I like to know why I need to 'do this and do that' so I can push the boundaries and improve.

Larry-K if youre referring to the un antialiased display in Freehand you had to press command+shift+G or something to get anitaliased then it was great and in the last two updates I think they added the option to the menu item at the bottom for wireframe etc.

Last edited by MacBoobsPro; Feb 17, 2013 at 04:38 AM.
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Old Feb 17, 2013, 05:39 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by MacBoobsPro View Post

All im saying is its more complex than it needs to be.
And all I'm saying is that I had exactly the same problem going from Illustrator to Freehand.

I've never known two pieces of software that do basically the same thing be so incompatible at a conceptual level with each other -- over the years I've happily played with multiple 3D packages, bitmap image editors, painting programmes… and I've never encountered the level of mental resistance that occurs when Freehand users move to Illustrator and vice versa.

Your specific example about the compound path, however, does sound like flaky behaviour and is likely the result of Adobe's general neglect of AI* rather than some conscious decision to make things more complicated.

TBH, wherever I have multiple paths (particularly with outlined text) I always, always ungroup and then unite with Pathfinder -- objects of this type have always behaved more reliably.

Yes, it's a bit flaky and a bit idiosyncratic, but my point is that so was Freehand but just in different ways.

Cheers

Jim

*CS6 is, honestly, a disgrace. I've personally filed half-a-dozen bug reports --including the not-insignificant one where exported TIFFs do not have the specified colour profile actually embedded, and the maddening one whereby actions played via F-key play twice-- and not a one of them has been fixed.
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Last edited by Jim Campbell; Feb 17, 2013 at 06:59 AM. Reason: Removing the errant asterisk this forum insists on inserting after an ellipsis.
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Old Feb 17, 2013, 07:29 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Campbell View Post
TBH, wherever I have multiple paths (particularly with outlined text) I always, always ungroup and then unite with Pathfinder -- objects of this type have always behaved more reliably.
I did that and still had problems.

Totally agree that CS6 is full of bugs. Not just AI. Dreamweaver has a great one. If you have a colour gradient background in a div it shows as white. If you have white text in that div you can't see it to edit it so you have to preview your work in a browser then go back into Dreamweaver, guess where to place your cursor and blindly edit your text. Good eh?!

Adobe is getting worse. This is why we needed Macromedia, how the takeover was allowed I dont know as Adobe now has the monopoly and produces crap and charges extortionate prices for worse and worse products.

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Old Feb 17, 2013, 09:02 AM   #13
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place your cursor and blindly edit your text. Good eh?!

Adobe is getting worse. This is why we needed Macromedia, how the takeover was allowed I dont know as Adobe now has the monopoly and produces crap and charges extortionate prices for worse and worse products.
It is amazing how quickly good programs go bad when one company owns them all.

Look at Autodesk. They own most of the 3D software out there and hardly do anything with it. Horrible bugs that have been in the software for years, virtually no new updates, and outrageous prices. Thankfully little guys like Pixologic and Luxology help to keep a fire under Autodesks ass by offering software for much cheaper that generally performs better in many areas.

Unfortunately for the design world there aren't really any viable alternatives to Adobe products although I do use Pixelmator for a lot of things vs Photoshop. It loads faster and has a MUCH better pen tool.
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Old Feb 17, 2013, 10:13 AM   #14
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In this instance I had to make a compound path i.e. a path inside another path before it would accept my command to make it a clipping path - even though making a compound path achieved nothing as there were not paths to be compounded. That why I didnt do it in the first place! Now tell me that is not complicated?
As you say, there were no paths that needed to be compound paths. But I think that's what AI gives you when you outline type: compound paths by default.

This is why I (and Jim Campbell alluded to this to) suggested "breaking down" the shapes into their simplest form: no grouping, no compounds and then building those features back in if you need them.

It does seem to be an unnecessary step and overly complex. But once you know these issues exist they're pretty easy to run-around.
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Old Feb 17, 2013, 10:17 AM   #15
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Just use FH. It still runs great. And if you are on one of the stupid eye-candy OSes wit Lion in the name, just run the Windows version in Virtual Box/Parallels seemless mode with Dock integration, or the mac one on a Snow virtual machine.
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Old Feb 17, 2013, 10:21 AM   #16
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Hey I still miss Corel Draw 5.
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Old Feb 18, 2013, 04:10 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by citizenzen View Post
As you say, there were no paths that needed to be compound paths. But I think that's what AI gives you when you outline type: compound paths by default.

This is why I (and Jim Campbell alluded to this to) suggested "breaking down" the shapes into their simplest form: no grouping, no compounds and then building those features back in if you need them.

It does seem to be an unnecessary step and overly complex. But once you know these issues exist they're pretty easy to run-around.
As I said I did break it down and 'unite' the items but it still needed me to compound paths even though there was nothing to compound?! Its stupid.

Quote:
Originally Posted by blanka View Post
Just use FH. It still runs great. And if you are on one of the stupid eye-candy OSes wit Lion in the name, just run the Windows version in Virtual Box/Parallels seemless mode with Dock integration, or the mac one on a Snow virtual machine.
I have Freehand at work and it does still run fantastic but you cant keep flogging a dead horse. I use Illustrator at home and freehand at work as I can do things much quicker in Freehand. We cant upgrade the OS as Snow Leopard strips out the drivers needed for our 20k printer and renders it useless so I'm on Leopard at work but at least I can run Freehand if I need to.
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Old Feb 18, 2013, 10:49 AM   #18
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It is amazing how quickly good programs go bad when one company owns them all.

Look at Autodesk. They own most of the 3D software out there and hardly do anything with it. Horrible bugs that have been in the software for years, virtually no new updates, and outrageous prices. Thankfully little guys like Pixologic and Luxology help to keep a fire under Autodesks ass by offering software for much cheaper that generally performs better in many areas.

Unfortunately for the design world there aren't really any viable alternatives to Adobe products although I do use Pixelmator for a lot of things vs Photoshop. It loads faster and has a MUCH better pen tool.
Truth on Autodesk, I'm really hoping for Luxology to develop the animation toolset in Modo more.

And I actually haven't played with the pen tool in Pixelmator, I have it loaded on my wife's Mac so she can do image editing. I'll have to check it out.
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Old Feb 18, 2013, 11:04 AM   #19
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The nice thing about pixelmators pen tool is its real time feedback. No guessing on your path when you click it.
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Old Feb 23, 2013, 05:13 AM   #20
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There are quite a few commercial alternatives on the Windows platform and these are not bad at all:

- CorelDRAW Graphic Suite (many people here in Europe are using it)
- Magix/Xara with their Designer (Pro) application
- Serif Software graphic tools (PagePlus, DrawPlus, Photoplus)

etc.

Most of these tools are faster than Adobe tools and many of these had 64-bit version long before Adobe was thinking about it ...
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Old Feb 24, 2013, 08:38 PM   #21
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There are quite a few commercial alternatives on the Windows platform and these are not bad at all:

- CorelDRAW Graphic Suite
I respectfully disagree, although I admit some of my reason for saying so is based on Jim's comments about what we know/are used to. I came up using Freehand, then illustrator, then both, and finally sided with Illustrator. When I began working at my current job, I had to learn CorelDRAW in a production environment (and on a more limited scope for design and layout). I can honestly say that the only program that I dislike more than Corel would be Publisher. I have found Corel to be very clunky and non-intuitive, but again this may be based on what I'm used to. But see below for additional comment.

Quote:
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Just use FH. It still runs great.
Additional comment: If it matters to anyone, one thing I've noticed about Adobe software over and above Freehand and Corel is that Adobe handles raster effects and transparency much, much better and more seamlessly in Postscript. This is very noticeable if you zoom in on them in your ripped files. Corel does a horrible job with them, and Freehand doesn't do much better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Campbell View Post
It's different. It's not necessarily worse, just different.
Dig that.

----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry-K View Post
...Adobe wasn't ambitious enough to steal them while they had the product, I guess Altsys still owned the code.
Did you mean Aldus?
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